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Symbols Used on a Last Will and Testament from 1591.

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Symbols Used on a Last Will and Testament from 1591.

Postby Brummie on Exmoor » Fri Jul 28, 2017 4:04 pm

I have been fortunate enough to discover the Wills of several family members who lived in the Welsh Marches from at least the 1540s onwards. And even the really early Wills are written in English, and are quite easy to unpick. It has been a really exciting voyage of discovery, because they name a lot of relatives, which has helped me to sort out who is related to who in a very precise fashion.

The Wills have turned up in the County Archives for Herefordshire (a wonderful helpful Archives service, with a big online list of Wills and Admons for anyone living in the Diocese, which included Herefordshire, part of Shropshire and a small sliver of Radnorshire) and Lichfield (parts of North East Shropshire as well as Staffordshire and chunks of Warwickshire and Derbyshire) which is on-line on Findmypast.

I have two questions however, relating to money in the Wills.

In one Will, written by Richard ABLEY in August 1591, there is a list of family members, each with a specific bequest, mostly in money. The one thing I am having problems with is the actual sums involved. I have deciphered most of the amounts, but the money symbols are not clear. Please does anyone know if they are the symbols for pounds and pence? Or are they something else? Also, whatever the denominations involved, what would the value be in very approximate terms? The ABLEY family were husbandmen, leasing land from someone further up the social scale.

The second Will, written in February 1571/2 by Richard's Grandfather (also Richard), refers to a sum being settled on his widowed daughter-in-law. It looks like 20 Nobles ['Provided that the forsayde xx nobles be payde to my Daughter in Lawe...'] I know that the Noble was a medieval gold coin, but my understanding is that it was no longer in use by this date, and had been superseded by the Angel. So again, please can anyone assist with this?

Many thanks,

Jane
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Will from 1571 to 72..png
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Sums of Money in 1591..png
Sums of Money in 1591..png (52.28 KiB) Viewed 856 times
Brummie on Exmoor
 
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Re: Symbols Used on a Last Will and Testament from 1591.

Postby carobradford » Fri Jul 28, 2017 6:37 pm

Minting of nobles was discontinued in the 15th century, but not before their value had been increased from 6/8 to 8/4. Even if they were pretty archaic by 1591, gold was still gold. Your ancestor may well have inherited them himself and had been hoarding them.
My best guess about the symbol in the other will is that it is "l" - i.e. £.

You don't by any chance have a Samuel ABLEY (bc 1813) in your tree?
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Re: Symbols Used on a Last Will and Testament from 1591.

Postby Brummie on Exmoor » Fri Jul 28, 2017 9:43 pm

Hi Caro,

Thanks for your reply. Yes, my hunch was that the first money symbol was a L, so these were £s, but I wanted some advice. And yes, your theory about Nobles makes sense. In an isolated rural community, a stash of old gold coins was gold, and therefore worth something.

My ABLEYs went from Condover and the surrounding area, where these Wills were written, down to Hopton Castle & Clun, and then to Knighton and Presteigne. My 3 x Great Grandfather was a Samuel ABLEY, married to a Tabitha Jane MONNINGTON. He was born in Combe, over the border from Presteigne, in about May 1785. His son Samuel was born in Radnorshire in 1809.

I have a lot of detailed material about the family, going back a long way.

Best wishes,

Jane
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Re: Symbols Used on a Last Will and Testament from 1591.

Postby Brummie on Exmoor » Wed Aug 02, 2017 4:05 pm

I finally decided that as I had a large number of Wills and Admons to decipher, it was worth investing in some expertise. I purchased a really super book, called 'Palaeography for Family and Local Historians' by Hilary Marshall. This immediately solved the riddle of the money symbols.

The letter after xx, that looks like a squiggly small letter l, is in fact a small s. So he left 20 shillings. The apparent d, is a d, so is pence.

This looks a great deal more likely in financial terms too, though I would still be interested in knowing what these sums might have been worth.

Jane
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